Experience the Next Level of Zen With iFi Audio’s ZEN DAC 3

The third-generation of ZEN DAC is here!
The third-generation of ZEN DAC is here!

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If the ZEN DAC 3 is as good as it looks, we’re in for a treat.

iFi Audio has released the ZEN DAC 3, a third-generation model that improves its well-known ZEN DAC series. Launched in April 2024, this model has advanced digital processing and USB-C connectivity. It also provides excellent audio quality in a sleek design for home and office use, perfect for audiophiles and casual listeners alike.

ZEN DAC 3 Features

iFi Audio’s ZEN DAC 3 supports higher-resolution audio. (From: iFi Audio)
iFi Audio’s ZEN DAC 3 supports higher-resolution audio. (From: iFi Audio)

The ZEN DAC 3 supports high-resolution audio up to 768kHz PCM and DSD512, making it compatible with a wide range of high-definition audio formats. It provides full MQA decoding up to 384kHz thanks to the processing power of the new 16-core XMOS chip.

It also functions as both a DAC and a DAC/Pre, allowing seamless connections to various devices including headphones, preamplifiers, and active speakers.
The ZEN DAC 3 has versatile connectivity options. (From: iFi Audio)
The ZEN DAC 3 has versatile connectivity options. (From: iFi Audio)

Other standout features include the following:

  • Integrated Headphone Amplifier: The ZEN DAC has 4.4 mm and 6.3 mm outputs. With a power output of up to 390 mW, it can drive everything from sensitive in-ears to demanding over-ears.
  • Audio Enhancement: This DAC uses XBass+ technology, an improved version of the original XBass. This analog sound processing mode boosts the bass response without muddying the midrange. It’s ideal for in-ear monitors or open-back headphones that might lack strong bass output.
The PowerMatch switch also adjusts the gain to match the power needs of high-impedance headphones for optimal audio.
  • Flexible Output Settings: Users can choose between variable and fixed output modes. The variable mode lets you change the volume directly from the unit when connected to active speakers, while the fixed mode works with an external amplifier to provide consistent signal output.
  • Better Digital Processing: Equipped with a 16-core XMOS processor, the ZEN DAC 3 manages digital audio with increased efficiency and lower latency. iFi’s in-house digital development team has programmed the XMOS firmware to improve sound quality and ensure a perfect partnership with the Burr-Brown DAC chip.
  • Versatile Connectivity Options: The ZEN DAC 3’s USB-C interface makes it easy to use with contemporary digital setups. It has a USB input overvoltage protection to safeguard against potential harm. And, an additional 5V power input allows for an external power supply to be connected, such as the iFi iPower2, for even cleaner audio output.

In addition, the ZEN DAC 3 incorporates iFi’s acclaimed technologies, such as Active Noise Cancellation II, to minimize power supply noise across all frequencies.

The ZEN DAC 3 uses Active Noise Cancellation II to minimize internal noise. (From: iFi Audio)
The ZEN DAC 3 uses Active Noise Cancellation II to minimize internal noise. (From: iFi Audio)

Technical specifications

Here’s an overview of the technical specifications of the ZEN DAC 3 for easy reference:

Specification Details
Digital InputUSB-C
Analog Output4.4mm balanced (BAL), RCA unbalanced (UnBAL)
Headphone Output4.4mm balanced (BAL), 6.3mm single-ended (SE)
Supported Hi-Res FormatsPCM up to 768kHz, DSD up to DSD512, full MQA decoding
Frequency Response5Hz to 90kHz (±3dB)
Power Supply RequirementsUSB-C or optional DC 5V/0.5A (center positive)
Power ConsumptionNo Signal: approx. 0.5W, Max Signal: approx. 2.5W
Dimensions6.2 inches x 4.6 inches x 1.4 inches
Weight1 pound
Line Section Outputs4.4mm BAL: 2V/6.2V max (variable), 4.2V (fixed)
RCA UnBAL: 1V/3.3V max (variable), 2.1V (fixed)
Output Impedance4.4mm BAL: ≤200Ω, RCA UnBAL: ≤100Ω
Signal-to-Noise Ratio≥113dB @ 0dBFS
Total Harmonic Distortion + Noise4.4mm: <0.0015% @ 0dBFS, RCA: <0.003% @ 0dBFS
Headphone Section Max Output4.4mm BAL: >70mW @ 600Ω, >300mW @ 32Ω6.3mm SE: >18mW @ 600Ω, >210mW @ 32Ω
Headphone Section RMS Output4.4mm BAL: >390mW @ 64Ω, 6.3mm SE: >210mW @ 32Ω
Headphone Output Impedance≤1Ω
Headphone SNR/DNR≥109dB @ 0dBFS (6.2V 4.4mm)
Headphone THD+N4.4mm: <0.005% (2V @ 600Ω), 6.3mm: <0.013% (1.27V @ 32Ω)

Where to Buy

The ZEN DAC 3 is available for purchase at US$229. You can buy it directly from the iFi Audio Official Store or any of their trusted third-party retailers.

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